Wednesday 2nd March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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The common agricultural policy and the basic payment scheme were, and to an extent still are, not small-farmer friendly. We want to make sure that the environmental land management scheme is much more focused on supporting smaller farms. I have visited farmers on the edge of Dartmoor who rent 100 or 200 acres and have grazing rights on Dartmoor. I realise the difficulty they have in gaining a living from their activities. We want to make sure that they have a living, and that the whole support network that we are providing and the addition of green finance will help them as much as it will help other farmers.

Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that what has happened in Europe in the last week should be a warning for us, because the environmental schemes that we have just passed through this House in two Bills are inevitably going to lead to a reduction in the amount of land actually used for farming for food? What is happening indicates that we cannot rely simply on being able to buy cheaper food from other countries. Will he commit to maintaining the amount of land still used for farming and to encouraging food as the primary enterprise of farmers?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes a very good point and it was well made in Minette Batters’s speech at the conference. I entirely agree with her that we do not want to create some sort of idyllic garden in the countryside and export our carbon and other footprints to other countries with worse livestock and environmental standards. We want to continue to see farmers producing food of the highest possible quality, and that is what underpins our reforms.